Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2020
The Fund The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty the Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime. It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan. The Fund has a total value of over 16 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. The Fund has assisted more than 160 National Societies thus far. The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it. The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier owing to the Easter holidays. The selection process The Empress Shôken Fund received 36 applications in 2020, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 400,160 Swiss francs to 14 projects in Argentina, Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, Lithuania, Montenegro, Namibia, Palestine, Panama, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. The projects to be supported in 2020 cover a number of themes, including first aid, youth engagement and disaster preparedness. Moreover, nearly all of the selected projects seek to strengthen the volunteer base of National Societies, with a view to building on the unique role played by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in communities everywhere. The Fund encourages new and innovative approaches that are geared towards learning, so that the broader Movement can benefit from project findings. The 2020 grants TheArgentine Red Crosshas launched a generational change in its leadership by promoting volunteers’ access to decision-making bodies. It will use the grant to design and build virtual courses, creating new spaces for dialogue and debate. For years, the Bulgarian Red Cross has been a major partner of the State in the field of first aid, helping it to respond effectively in a crisis. The National Society will use the grant to reinforce its leadership position by introducing an online first-aid training platform that will facilitate theoretical learning and increase the number of trained first-aiders. The Hellenic Red Cross seeks to empower local communities in vulnerable or isolated areas. The grant will go towards establishing branch and community disaster teams that will build communities’ resilience through activities and training around disaster risk reduction. In Iraq, late detection of breast cancer is common and makes the disease much deadlier. To save women’s lives, theIraqi Red Crescent Societywill use the grant to train female volunteers who will raise awareness of early detection methods for breast cancer. The Lithuanian Red Cross will put the grant towards an innovative digital platform for evaluating the impact of its first-aid courses, issuing and tracking certifications, and connecting with first-aiders after they complete their training. Young people account for more than 80% of the volunteers of the Red Cross of Montenegro. The National Society will use the grant to improve its activities and services with the aim of strengthening youth participation and raising awareness of volunteer opportunities. As Namibia’s population grows, first-aid skills and services are more in demand than ever before. The grant will enable the Namibia Red Cross to run intensive first-aid training and certification courses in ten schools. To better serve the communities it works with, thePalestine Red Crescent Society seeks to build its staff members’ and volunteers’ capacities. It will use the grant to establish a computer lab as a continuing-education unit for all of its staff and volunteers. In Panama, gang violence has shot up in recent years, and pollution continues to grow owing to a lack of public awareness. The Red Cross Society of Panama will use the grant to develop a series of activities aimed at promoting a culture of peace and environmental responsibility. Blood transfusion services are an essential component of Sierra Leone’s health-care system. The grant will enable the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to increase access to safe blood products, especially for pregnant woman and infants. In Timor-Leste, 70% of the population is under 30 years old, but accessing information about reproductive health can be difficult, particularly in rural areas. The Timor Leste Red Cross will use the grant for a public-awareness and education campaign for young people on reproductive health. The Tonga Red Cross Society will use the grant to improve students' access to health care and physical activity by using safer vehicles for transportation. The Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society is exploring novel approaches to teaching disaster preparedness and increasing public awareness on the subject. The grant will enable the National Society to use virtual-reality technology to teach the public about the reality and impact of disasters. In Uganda, 70% of blood donors are students, so the country faces blood shortages outside term time. The Uganda Red Cross Society will use the grant to develop its online recruitment of adult blood donors so as to counteract any seasonal shortfalls during the holidays.
Red Cross premieres new surge training programme in Bulgaria
By Nora Peter, IFRCBetween 6 – 16 May, the IFRC conducted its first Coordination, Assessment and Planning (CAP) for Red Cross Red Crescent Operations training in Sofia, Bulgaria. The purpose of this training was to prepare Red Cross and Red Crescent people for international deployment and equip them with skills to manage disasters and crises effectively in a team.The training brought together 35 participants from 21 countries including Japan, Lebanon, Cameroon, Canada, Syria, Australia and Norway. A team of 14 experienced facilitators and mentors made sure that participants consolidate and put their learning into practice.The programme also included a 3 days simulation exercise of a complex emergency - an earthquake scenario with added pressures due to a dam burst. Participants from different countries and professional fields had to join forces to respond to the escalating emergency and test their skills in a near-life situation. “The CAP training is one of the outcomes of the surge optimization process that we have been working on since 2017, with the goal of improving our performance and accountability in emergency response. The new surge system ensures that the right people and services are deployed at the right time – as local as possible, and only as global as necessary,” says Evgenia Generalova, IFRC Surge Learning and Development Coordinator.“We express our gratitude to the Bulgarian Red Cross for their tireless support during the preparation and implementation of the training,” she adds.The CAP training one of four learning events planned in 2019 that are funded through the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. The two-year project EU Aid Volunteers - Enhancing Aid Capacities is implemented by the IFRC in partnership with the Red Cross societies of Austria, Bulgaria, Italy and The Netherlands with the aim to improve the capability of organizations to provide quality support, managing enhanced pools of competent volunteers and staff for emergency response and improving remote support of operations.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujek537CShM&feature=youtu.be[/embed]
Red Cross integration programme helps relocated refugees to settle in their host countries
By Nora Peter, IFRC Three European Red Cross societies have launched a joint initiative that focuses on the social integration of refugees and asylum-seekers.The two-year project “Action of Red Cross on Integration of Relocated and Resettled Persons” runs under the acronym ARCI and is implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the German, Bulgarian and Croatian Red Cross. ARCI aims to provide personalized and accessible information for refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in these countries through EU relocation and resettlement programmes but brings benefits for the integration of larger groups of asylum-seekers and refugees in these countries. The project allows refugees and asylum-seekers to receive information in their native language from the moment they arrive in a host country. It also enables them to participate in skills and language training, and to receive some support in finding a job or a school for themselves or their family members. [caption id="attachment_50887" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Refugees in a transit camp of the Harburg German Red Cross branch: language course.[/caption] To better understand the needs of the people arriving in a new country, a series of interviews have been conducted with refugees and asylum-seekers themselves and the National Societies are regularly coordinating their support with key authorities and organizations active in the field of integration. The programme also aims to foster acceptance in the host communities and sensitize local authorities through a series of trainings and sessions. "Our experience has shown that integration is most successful when both host and refugee community are working together. Local Red Cross volunteers who engage in activities like drawing or yoga with refugees on a daily basis can build the initial bridge between the two groups. We couldn’t do all this without their dedication,” says Yasemin Bekyol, EU Relocation Policy Officer at the German Red Cross. Both EU Relocation and Resettlement scheme have allowed the transfer of persons in need of international protection to access long-term solution of integration and protection in EU countries. As of June 2018, over 34,000 people have been relocated within the EU and more than 25,980 resettled since 2015. Although the EU Relocation scheme has officially ended, Germany, Croatia, and Bulgaria have received altogether 10,979 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy who have needed integration support from the moment they have arrived at their countries. Through the linkages of pre-departure and post-arrival needs assessment, the project is also looking at identifying good practices that can benefit further humanitarian admission programmes. The ARCI project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. The content of this article represents the views of the author only and is his or her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made on the information it contains.
Red Cross warns of risk to thousands as floods in Europe threaten to worsen
Budapest, 25 March 2018 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning tens of thousands of people across the Balkans and Eastern Europe could be at risk from flooding as extreme weather is set to worsen this week. A sudden rise in temperature has seen snow and ice thaw rapidly, swelling rivers and lakes. This combined with heavy rain has caused flooding across swathes of Europe including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Montenegro and Romania. In Eastern Europe, Belarus was the hardest hit with more than 50,000 people affected and hundreds of homes submerged. Kazakhstan has also seen flooding in the east. Hundreds of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have been helping with evacuations and providing emergency supplies like food and drinking water for thousands of people in flood-hit towns and villages. IFRC Regional Director for Europe, Simon Missiri, said: “Given the forecast for the next few days and weeks, we’re expecting tough times ahead that could put thousands more people in danger. “We have already seen weather patterns change rapidly - from snow and freezing temperatures to heavy rain and rapidly melting ice, within the space of a few days. This looks set to continue. “Thousands of people have already seen homes swamped with water and villages have been completely cut off in some cases.” Water dumped from hydro-electric power plant reservoirs in Albania to protect the integrity of dams is causing levels in lakes and basins to rise - causing concern in the country and neighbouring Montenegro. Red Cross emergency teams are working with emergency services in Montenegro and preparing for major flooding. Croatia has been among the hardest hit by floods so far with heavy rain causing seven landslides in the last two weeks which wiped out homes and left roads blocked. More than 200 Croatian Red Cross volunteers and staff have been responding, with specialist boat teams also sent to villages left marooned.